browsing through the eide neurolearning blog, which i follow because of my interest in learning disabilities (or “alternative learning”), i found a posting on “bloggers’ brains”. here is an excerpt, which i have supplemented with a few links. some of the things mentioned are a bit obvious but i found it interesting to look at the links, and how the information contained in them relates to blogging. maybe i’ll follow up on that in another entry.
What effect is all this blogging having on the brains of bloggers?
Why ask this question? The primary reason can be found in one of the central tenets of modern neuroscience: “The neurons that fire together, wire together.” What this basically means is that our mental activities actually cause changes in the structures of our brains–not only what we think, but how we think as well. Given such activity-directed change, it always makes sense to ask whenever large numbers of people start using their brains in new and different ways.
1. Blogs can promote critical and analytical thinking.
In research comparing newspaper and television news, public policy experts have previously found that consumers are far more likely to question what they read than what they see in pictures or on TV. There are several likely reasons for this: First, text can be assimilated in a self-paced fashion, allowing time for analysis and reflection. Second, words must–by their very nature–be analyzed, organized, and interpreted before they can be understood, providing more time for critical reflection. Blogs, with their text-based format, tend to avoid the more manipulative aspects of visually-embedded media.
2. Blogging can be a powerful promoter of creative, intuitive, and associational thinking.
To remain popular with readers, blogs must be updated frequently. This constant demand for output promotes a kind of spontaneity and ‘raw thinking’–the fleeting associations and the occasional outlandish ideas–seldom found in more formal media. Blogging is ideally suited to follow the plan for promoting creativity advocated by pioneering molecular biologist Max Delbruck. Delbruck’s “Principle of Limited Sloppiness” states we should be sloppy enough so that unexpected things can happen, but not so sloppy that we can’t find out that it did.
3. Blogs promote analogical thinking.
… because professionals like attorneys, philosophers, and academicians run many excellent blogs, we all can benefit from their intellectual rigor, and their use of analogical thinking when communicating to the common world of the blogosphere.
4. Blogging is a powerful medium for increasing access and exposure to quality information.
Because blogs link many facts and arguments in branching “threads” and webs, and append primary source materials and reference works, they foster deeper understanding and exposure to quality information. In turn these sources can seed other creative projects.
5. Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.
Research using the Lemelson-MIT Invention index found that invention is best fostered in solitude (66%); yet other research has shown the beneficial effects of brainstorming with a community of intellectual peers. So blogging may combine the best of “working by yourself” and “working with other people.”
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